Advanced Criminal Law

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"Advanced Criminal Law"
Community episode
Episode no. Season 1
Episode 5
Directed by Joe Russo
Written by Andrew Guest
Production code 105
Original air date October 15, 2009 (2009-10-15)
Episode chronology
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"Social Psychology"
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"Football, Feminism and You"
List of Community episodes

"Advanced Criminal Law" is the fifth episode of the first season of the American comedy television series Community. It aired in the United States on NBC on October 15, 2009. The episode centers on three main story lines. First, Jeff (Joel McHale) defends Britta (Gillian Jacobs) when she is accused of cheating on a Spanish test. Meanwhile, Pierce (Chevy Chase) tries to help Annie (Alison Brie) write Greendale a school song. Finally, Troy (Donald Glover) and Abed (Danny Pudi) test each other's gullibility.


Dean Pelton (Jim Rash) cheerfully announces that the school is going to unveil a statue of prized Greendale alumnus Luis Guzmán at a ceremony in which a new school song will debut. The students seem uninterested. Psychology professor Ian Duncan (John Oliver) accosts Jeff (Joel McHale) in the hall to ask if Jeff and Britta (Gillian Jacobs) are a couple, and if that couple might be successfully sabotaged. Meanwhile, Troy (Donald Glover) begins to mess with his friend Abed (Danny Pudi), taking advantage of Abed's gullibility to tell him ridiculous lies.

When the students arrive in Spanish class, their instructor Ben Chang (Ken Jeong) refuses to give back their grades on a recent test because he had discovered a tiny cheat sheet on the floor of the classroom. He threatens the whole class with a zero on the test if the perpetrator fails to come forward within 24 hours.

The group meets up in the library for their usual study session, in which Annie (Alison Brie) discusses her nervousness, as she is on the school song committee and only has until Friday to come up with a song. Pierce (Chevy Chase) offers to help Annie, while Abed assures her that Troy can help, as he invented rap music, and is related to Barack Obama and Danny Glover (likely a reference to a real rumor, as the actors share a surname despite not being related). Shirley (Yvette Nicole Brown) is shocked by this display of seeming racism, and Troy tells Abed that he's been "messing with him", but Abed seems not to understand the concept.

The next day, in Spanish class, Sr. Chang offers a final opportunity for the cheater to confess and save their classmates; Britta admits to cheating but attempts to shame Chang for having threatened the entire class; Chang shouts "Turn on her!" at the class and the other students begin pelting her with crumpled paper balls. Jeff finds her later in the cafeteria and gloats slightly at Britta's moral failing, as the Dean walks up and explains to her that she will be facing a disciplinary hearing the next day in Borchert Hall—the school's swimming pool. Jeff volunteers to represent her in the trial.

Abed tries unsuccessfully to mess with Troy, but his stories are not plausible. Troy instructs him as to why he is unsuccessful and Abed takes notes—until Troy notices that Abed is writing in some system of unreadable symbols. He asks what language Abed is using, and Abed tells him that "it's probably Arabic". The disciplinary hearing begins in the stands of the swimming pool, with Sr. Chang, the accuser, as one of the judges. Meanwhile, Pierce fails at coming up with a school song.

As the trial continues, Britta confesses to having cheated on the test, even as Jeff has nearly exonerated her. Both sides recess to the showers to discuss the case further. Meanwhile, Troy catches Abed dictating notes to someone, documenting the human custom of "messing with" one another, although when Troy calls him on it, Abed laughs and says he's just messing with Troy. Abed runs away, ululating as he leaps over a park bench. Britta and Jeff, in recess, attempt to settle on a strategy to make up for Britta's confession, but she is unhelpful, due to her guilt at having cheated. She tells Jeff that he's only defending her because he wants to sleep with her, but he reassures her by pointing out how handsome he is and that if he only wanted sex, he could have easily gotten it from someone else—and therefore, he's defending her because he genuinely likes her and wants to be her friend. Britta speculates that she actually wanted to get caught—and Jeff realizes a plan for the defense.

When the hearing reconvenes, Jeff argues that Britta is insane. She protests, but he assures the court that Britta is "all the way out of her entire damn mind"—and he stirringly argues that Greendale Community College can't possibly afford to punish its students merely for being insane, as that would result in the expulsion of the entire student body. The judges recommend a punishment consisting of "counseling" from Professor Duncan every Friday evening.

Troy discovers Abed communicating via television with an identical-looking character on the TV. Abed assures Troy that he's not an alien and laughs. Troy—while seemingly not entirely certain—concludes that Abed has gone to so much trouble to mess with him that it would, in fact, be less creepy if Abed turned out to actually be an alien. Troy promises not to mess with Abed anymore, and they both take an oath to tell the truth to each other. Garrett appears dressed as an alien, but Abed sends him away.

Pierce awakes in front of his piano, and Annie enters, and gives him a last moment of encouragement before the song is unveiled. Pierce, in a stroke of inspiration, finishes the song—unfortunately, his song is "The Way It Is" by Bruce Hornsby. But it is, nonetheless, a plausible song. Jeff tells Abed that the college is liable to be sued.

"Advanced Criminal Law" is the first episode in which Leonard appears, swimming nude in the pool during Britta's trial.


Around 5.01 million Americans watched "Advanced Criminal Law".[1]

Todd VanDerWerff of The A.V. Club rated the episode C+, calling the episode a "dud" and specifically opining that Troy and Abed's subplot was "too weird by half". He approved, however, of the new complexity seen in Britta's character, given her previous "goody two shoes" ways.[2]


  1. ^ Seidman, Robert (October 16, 2009). "Broadcast Finals: Bones, The Office, Grey's Anatomy, The Mentalist up, Private Practice down a tick". TV by the Numbers. Retrieved June 13, 2012. 
  2. ^ VanDerWerff, Todd (October 15, 2009). "Advanced Criminal Law". The A.V. Club. Retrieved June 13, 2012. 

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